Testing for Well & Septic

Jim writes: Do you need a perc test if there is sewer hookup at the road? Also, is there such a thing as a well test also? Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: There is no need for a perc test if you are tying into a municipal sewer system. There will be a cost to tie in, however, so you might want to check with the town for an estimate of the hookup fees. You may also need to pay for some of the trenching and piping to your house. Unfortunately, there is no similar test for a … [Read more...]

Are Alternative Septic Systems Allowed?

Richard writes: My lot will not accommodate a conventional leach field. What alternatives can you suggest and who would you recommend to design alternative septic systems? Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: What is acceptable in your area after a failed perc test is determined by local building codes and health department regulations, so you should first check with them. A face-to-face meeting is usually the most productive. In my experience, these people are eager to help and … [Read more...]

Treatments for Acidic Water

Daryl writes: I purchased a vacation home last year and noticed blue stains in the shower and bathroom sink.  Is this due to acidic water and is it detrimental to a person’s health? Can you drink acidic water? Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: Your problem is most likely acidic water. A water test, which you can arrange with your town’s health department for a modest fee, can confirm this. Acidic water is generally not a health problem. Well water generally ranges from a pH of … [Read more...]

Is Earnest Money Refundable?

Gina writes: We recently bought a lot in Point Cook, VIC, Australia. We signed the contract and made a 10% deposit, but the deal has not closed yet. Before we signed the contract, the master plan showed that the lots across the road were individual lots. The salesperson told us that these lots would be used for display homes. But now the five lots cross road are being used to build a child-care center. Can we cancel the contract and get our 10% deposit back? Steve Bliss, of … [Read more...]

Building on Poor Soils

Sandy writes: We were told the lot we were buying had "bad dirt" which didn't compact properly. So the builder is supposedly removing all the bad dirt and replacing it so that a home on a slab foundation can be built. How common is this practice and what can we do to ensure everything was done properly? Also, my husband saw them removing dirt and dumping it on the lot next door which needs building up. Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: There are some types of soils that do not … [Read more...]

Beware Expansive Clay Soils

Will writes: I have purchased a home on clay-type soil. No soil samples were taken, and my foundation has moved severely -- severely enough to have eighth-inch cracks in every room and the tile has popped loose. I started having these problems within the first 4 months of living in the home. We moved in just 2 weeks after the home was finished from new construction. At one point, the ceramic tile has “teepeed” roughly 2 inches above the level of the rest of the tile. My doors also don't shut or … [Read more...]

Building on a Wet Site

Ramakant writes: We are in discussion with a builder to buy a lot to build our new home. Currently it's a wooded area. However we discovered that this particular lot had a pond at one time covering almost 50% of the lot. Is it safe to build a new home on this lot? If so what are the things we need to consider? The builder says that we just need to stabilize the foundation with more concrete and other things. He says that this is nothing unusual and that they do very often. Steve Bliss, … [Read more...]

Durable Beach House Construction

Vicki writes: What are the most crucial parts of designing a beach house? Does the weather or any environmental changes have big impacts on beach houses? How can an architect design a house that will limit those impacts? What shapes or building styles are suitable for beaches? How long does it take to come up with a design? Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com responds: The short answer is that, yes, there are a number of critical issues in designing and building a beach house and established … [Read more...]

Best Time of Year for Perc Test?

Cindy writes: When is the best time to have a perc test done? I am supposed to have a perc done next week. There has been snow and unusually cold temperatures lately so I’m not sure this is a good time. I want to move forward with the test so I can submit my building plans to the county and get the permits, which can take several weeks. I really don't want to delay the perc unless it is necessary. Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: A perc test measures the rate at which water is … [Read more...]

Building on an “Unbuildable” Lot

Faith writes: Where do I start to make my six-acre unimproved lot buildable? Though there is a house on the lot adjacent to my land, in addition to three to four homes in front of my property, the planning and zoning department in my county is saying that my land is not buildable. Steve Bliss, of BuildingAdvisor.com, responds: The place to start is by talking with the planning and zoning department in the local government -- town, city, or county -- that has jurisdiction over your property. … [Read more...]

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